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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Chhattisgarh to opt for indirect mayoral elections

A senior government functionary, who was not willing to be quoted, said that there is a consensus in the government that elections for head of urban local bodies should be indirect.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2019 01:33 IST
Ritesh Mishra
Ritesh Mishra
Hindustan Times, Raipur
The decision on how to conduct the local body polls is taken by the state election commission and not the Election Commission of India.
The decision on how to conduct the local body polls is taken by the state election commission and not the Election Commission of India.(AP Photo)
         

The Chhattisgarh government is set to opt for indirect Mayoral elections, emulating the example of two other Congress ruled states, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, with a ministerial committee on Tuesday recommending this for heads of the urban local bodies.

Chhattisgarh’s urban administration minister, Shivkumar Dahariya, who headed the committee, said it has recommended indirect elections for the posts of mayors of municipal corporations and chairpersons of other civic bodies, elections for which are scheduled to be held in mid-December.

The decision on how to conduct the local body polls is taken by the state election commission and not the Election Commission of India.

A senior government functionary, who was not willing to be quoted, said that there is a consensus in the government that elections for head of urban local bodies should be indirect.

“Corporators should be directly elected by voters who should then elect the mayor or presidents of municipal councils,” Dahariya said, adding that the committee also proposed voting by ballot papers and not by EVMs.

Currently, there are five states --- Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Tamil Nadu – that have directly elected mayors. Another Congress ruled state, Punjab, also has indirect elections for the posts of mayors as do TMNC-ruled West Bengal and the BJD-ruled Odisha.

Madhya Pradesh governor Lalji Tandon on October 8, 2019, approved the Ordinance paving way for indirect mayor elections. A ministerial committee in Rajasthan recommended the same to the state government on October 11. The previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments in the two states started the practice of direct mayoral elections.

The opposition BJP in Chhattisgarh alleged the ruling party Congress wants to crush democratic values in the state by holding indirect elections for mayors and chairpersons of civic bodies.

“Congress leaders are rattled after the defeat in Lok Sabha polls and know they cannot win direct mayor elections. So, they want indirect elections in which councilors can be influenced and verdict can be manufactured. People of Chhattisgarh are against this decision and it will be reflected in the results,” said Dharmlal Kaushik, leader of opposition in the Chhattisgarh legislative assembly.

Political experts said holding indirect elections seems to be part of a well-planned strategy of the Congress.

“The Congress wants to win urban bodies and the best way is by indirect elections of mayors and chairpersons. This will help the Congress to strengthen its cadre based in Chhattisgarh,” said Ashok Tomar, a political commentator based in Raipur.